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Even as IFTDA begins inquiry, Aahana Kumra accuses Sajid Khan of sexual misconduct

The Lipstick Under My Burkha actress is the latest to accuse the director after Rachel White, Saloni Chopra, Karishma Upadhyay, Mandana Karimi, among others.

Shriram Iyengar

The list of women accusing director Sajid Khan of sexual harassment and misbehavior just got lengthened by one more person. Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017) actress Aahana Kumra has now accused Khan of sexual misconduct during a meeting with her a year ago. 

Speaking to The Times of India, a daily, Kumra said, "I had a meeting with Sajid Khan about a year ago, knowing the fact that he is a shady guy. I met him and he did the same thing that Saloni [Chopra] has written about him. Same drill — you go to his house, you are escorted to his room which is pretty dark. He makes you watch what he’s watching. He did not make a pass at me, but he said that he wanted to get to know me. When I asked him why we can’t sit outside, he said his mother was sitting there so why trouble her. I asked him to switch on the lights of the room, which he did. You have to be assertive here. He wanted to chat with me. I told him my mom’s a police officer which I think made him behave. But he still asked me bizarre questions." 

Khan is not the only person that Kumra has accused. She also named former Kwan founder, Anirban Das Blah, as another perpetrator of sexual harassment. However, Kumra said she was not looking for a legal punishment, but a simple apology.

"I wanted to talk about my experience with Anirban and Sajid earlier, but their stories came out, and though they tried, they couldn’t misbehave with me. Some of us are looking for a simple ‘Sorry’. It’s not about wanting to punish someone by putting him behind bars. It is about letting people know what he/she did. Those who are guilty should accept it. I read Anirban’s letter and I am glad that at least he accepted it," she said.

The actress also stated that her experience in the industry was so traumatic that it led to suicidal thoughts. "About five years ago, I was disillusioned by this culture of Bollywood [Hindi cinema], and there was no one to pull me out of it. I was on the verge of committing suicide, because this culture is so normalised by certain people. I couldn't live with who I was anymore...It has taken me a lot to come out of it," she added. 

Incidentally, the actress' statement comes on the same day as the Indian Film and Television Directors' Association (IFTDA) began its inquiry on Sajid Khan and Alok Nath over the accusations against them. Khan is expected to have made his statement to the panel of the IFTDA today. 

Khan has also been accused of sexually inappropriate behaviour and exposure by Rachel White, Saloni Chopra, Mandana Karimi, journalist Karishma Upadhyay among six women. 

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Sexual harassment